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NORD STREAM

Swedish institute says underwater ‘blasts’ recorded prior to Nord Stream leaks

Two underwater blasts were recorded prior to the discovery of three leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines linking Russia and Europe, a Swedish seismological institute said Tuesday as the unexplained leaks raised suspicions of sabotage.

Swedish institute says underwater 'blasts' recorded prior to Nord Stream leaks
A woman takes pictures of waves on the Baltic Sea near Warnemeunde, northeastern Germany, in 2017. Huge circles of foaming water appeared in the Baltic sea on Tuesday after reported leaks from the Nord Stream pipelines. Photo: Bernd Wüstneck/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

The Swedish National Seismic Network recorded two “massive releases of energy” shortly prior to, and near the location of, the gas leaks off the coast of the Danish island of Bornholm, Peter Schmidt, an Uppsala University seismologist, told news wire AFP.

“The first happened at 2:03am just southeast of Bornholm with a magnitude of 1.9. Then we also saw one at 7:04pm on Monday night, another event a little further north and that seems to have been a bit bigger. Our calculations show a magnitude of 2.3,” Schmidt said.

“With energy releases this big there isn’t much else than a blast that could cause it,” he added.

WATCH: Baltic Sea foams with gas from broken Nord Stream pipeline

Schmidt explained that since the releases were “very sudden” and not a “slow collapse”, the events were “in all likelihood some type of blasts.”

The Norwegian Seismic Array (NORSAR) also confirmed it had registered “a smaller explosion” in the early hours of Monday, “followed by a more powerful on Monday evening.”

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions in recent months as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine.

While the pipelines, which are operated by a consortium majority-owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom, are not currently in operation, they both still contain gas which has been leaking out since Monday.

Photos taken by the Danish military on Tuesday showed large masses of bubbles on the surface of the water emanating from the three leaks located in Sweden’s and Denmark’s economic zones, spreading from 200 to 1,000 metres in diameter.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Copenhagen was not ruling out sabotage of the gas pipelines between Russia and Europe.

READ ALSO: Gas leaks cause bubbling up in Baltic Sea as Danish PM says ‘unlikely due to chance’

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POLITICS

Faroe Islands renew fishing quota deal with Russia

Denmark's autonomous Faroe Islands have renewed a fishing quota deal with Russia for one year despite Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, a local minister said on Saturday.

Faroe Islands renew fishing quota deal with Russia

“The Faroe Islands are totally right to extend their existing fishing agreement with Russia,” the North Atlantic archipelago’s minister of fisheries Arni Skaale told the Jyllands-Posten daily.

He added however that the islands, which are not part of the European Union, condemned “all form of war – also the war in Ukraine” after Russian forces invaded in February.

The agreement has been in place since 1977 and is renewable each year.

It lays out catch quotas for cod, haddock, whiting and herring in the Barents Sea north of Russia for Faroese fishermen, and in waters off the coast of the Faroe Islands for Russian fishing boats.

Dependent on fishing

The autonomous territory is highly dependent on fishing for its income, and the fisheries ministry says the deal with Russia covers 5 percent of its GDP.

Russia has become a key commercial partner of the Faroe Islands since they and neighbouring Iceland fell out with the European Union – including Denmark – between 2010 and 2014 over mackerel and herring quotas.

An EU embargo on Faroese fish harmed the economy of the territory, which then turned to other markets.

“Today we only have free trade agreements with six countries – and not with the European Union,” said Skaale.

“If we cut ourselves off from one of these markets, it could be problematic for the whole of the next generation.”

Alternatives to be considered

Authorities on the archipelago have however said they would think about alternatives to the deal with Russia after local parliamentary polls on December 8.

Last month, neighbouring Norway – a NATO member – and Russia also agreed on catch quotas in the Barents Sea for next year.

Home to some 54,000 inhabitants, the Faroe Islands have been largely autonomous from Denmark since 1948.

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